Consumer protection law: new enforcement measures
The new powers are intended to help consumers more directly than is currently possible and are consequently described as "enhanced consumer measures", or ECMs. Enforcers will still be able to bring criminal prosecutions against offending businesses, and to seek civil injunctions to stop businesses from infringing consumer protection law. The ECMs also mean that, in certain circumstances, enforcers will also be able to:
- order a defaulting business to reimburse customers for any financial loss they have suffered as a result of the breach;
- (where individual customers cannot be identified), order a defaulting business to pay an appropriate sum to a consumer charity;
- order a defaulting business to advertise their breach in the press, on their websites, and in their stores;
- publicise a defaulting business's breach on Trading Standards' website;
- Order a defaulting business to overhaul its internal practices to ensure there is no repeat of the breach. For instance, by appointing a compliance officer, updating internal processes, or giving training to staff.
The government intends to bring these measures into force on 1 October 2015.
It is essential that businesses who sell to consumers make sure that their terms and conditions are fit for purpose and compliant with current consumer protection legislation.